The Toronto Blue Jays appear to have now completed their off-season heavy lifting on the position-player front and are expected to zero in on pitching. A top-tier starter, like Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta, is probably unlikely, however there are plenty of depth options available on the free agent market.
One such player the club is being linked to is right-hander Chris Tillman. Jon Morosi of MLB Network reported Wednesday morning during a guest appearance on Sportsnet 590 The FAN that there has been some conversation between the Blue Jays and the 29-year-old pitcher.
Toronto’s 2018 rotation features two large question marks — Aaron Sanchez (finger issues) and Joe Biagini (inconsistency as a starter) — highlighting the need to add depth and Tillman could be an intriguing option.
He encountered shoulder issues and struggled mightily last season, posting a career-worst 7.84 ERA and 1.892 WHIP in 93 innings. Yet he was one of Baltimore’s best starters just one year prior and from 2013 to 2016, Tillman averaged 32 starts and 190 innings per season, along with a 3.91 ERA and 4.27 FIP. If he bounces back to provide similar production, the nine-year veteran could be a bargain, especially since he’s likely to fetch just a one-year deal. Back in November, MLB Trade Rumors forecasted that Tillman would net a one-year, $10-million deal.
The consensus top free agent starting pitcher hasn’t signed this winter, but that could change very soon. Several reports this week claimed talks between Darvish and interested clubs were gaining momentum. The Chicago Cubs are said to be having “active talks” with the right-hander, while the Milwaukee Brewers reportedly offered him a contract.
The Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers have also been linked to Darvish in recent weeks.
Darvish, 31, posted a 3.86 ERA and 10.1 K/9 ratio over 31 starts and 186.2 innings last season with the Rangers and Dodgers.
Brewers in on Yelich?
The Brewers finished with 86 wins in 2017, falling just short of a wild-card berth and now seem intent on making a splash this winter. In addition to their interest in Darvish, the club is also in talks with the Miami Marlins about outfielder Christian Yelich.
The 26-year-old Yelich represents the best trade chip on a Marlins club that already dealt Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton. He’ll command a large return because the productive outfielder (4.5 WAR in 2017) is under team control through the 2021 season, with a club option for 2022.
The Brewers have also been linked to Lorenzo Cain during the off-season.